Spicy Lasagna with Sausage Meatballs ~ this hearty meal is secretly light and delicate thanks to the fresh sheets of pasta I used in place of regular lasagna noodles.
You know those odd cool days that happen once in a while in the spring and summer? The ones that have you rifling through your closet for a cozy sweatshirt? And praying that the sun will break through the clouds for just a minute so you can warm your chilled bones? We’re having that kind of weather lately here, it’s called June Gloom. It’s a weather pattern that settles over Southern California this time of year. The mornings are shrouded in a cool misty marine layer that sometimes lasts throughout the day. True Californians despise June Gloom. They resent having to take off their sunglasses, and I don’t think they own any sweaters.
I love June Gloom, and this is how I celebrate it….
A huge pan of extra cheesy lasagna spiced up with chili pepper and topped with a layer of little sausage meatballs swimming in molten mozzerella. It’s warm and oh so cozy.
I admit it, I kinda like gloomy weather. I get to wear my Ugg boots, and eat lasagna.
But don’t tell anyone, them’s fighting words around these parts.
There’s just something about a meatball…
Spicy Lasagna with Sausage Meatballs
- 2 tsp olive oil, plus more for greasing lasagna pan
- 1 lb spicy Italian sausage, I used ground turkey sausage
- 2 cups ricotta cheese
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley, (a handful of fresh parsley)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper , or to taste
- 24 oz marinara sauce, or pasta sauce
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- 1 lb fresh mozzarella cheese, grated
- 8 oz fresh pasta sheets, you need 5
- Set oven to 350°F.
- Heat a large pan over medium heat and drizzle in a little oil oil. Remove the sausage meat from its casing by squeezing small balls of the meat out with your hands. Let them drop into the pan. Cook the sausage until golden brown and cooked through, shaking the pan to make sure the meat gets browned on all sides. Set aside.
- In a small bowl, mix to combine the ricotta, egg and parsley together, until the egg is thoroughly incorporated. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside
- Heat the sauce to a simmer on the stove with the chili flakes and fennel seed.
- Drizzle a little more oil on the bottom of your lasagna pan. Lay one of the pasta sheets down and spoon about a fifth of the ricotta mixture over it. Sprinkle on some mozzarella and then ladle on some of the sauce. Repeat with four more pasta sheets, layering them with the cheeses and sauce.
- Finish with a top layer of pasta. Spread it with the last of the ricotta, and then lay your meatballs evenly across the entire top. Drizzle sauce over the meatballs, and then cover with the rest of the mozzarella.
- Cover loosely with non-stick foil, and bake for about an hour, until bubbly and hot throughout.
- This lasagna is lighter and more delicate than it looks because I used the fresh sheets of pasta. They are so much lighter than regular lasagna noodles and make the dish less stodgy and filling. You can use regular lasagna noodles of course, but the fresh are well worth the little extra expense; remember you’re getting a lot of meals out of this casserole. Because the filling is minimal, the layers of fresh pasta meld with the cheese into an almost custard-like consistency; it’s a nice change of pace.
don’t forget to pin this spicy lasagna with sausage meatballs!